The subject of this sketch, W. W. Blakslee, was born in 1821, at Springville, Susquehanna Co., Pa. He had the advantages of the common schools of that day, namely, about three months of the year, and that in winter. In those days the pedagogue was not required to hold a degree of qualification from a normal school, and county superintendents were an unknown quantity. If an applicant possessed a muscular frame, had plenty of grit, was an adept in the use of the birch, reasonably familiar with the common branches, willing to board around, and take ten dollars a month, he was employed, the directors satisfied, and the children, of course, enlightened. This was fifty years ago, and yet in those days were sown seed that germinated, producing some of the brightest intellects of this century. Our subject remained under the parental roof until about twelve years of age, when he determined to do for himself. Mauch Chunk was then becoming a wonderful place, the finding and developing of coal was attracting attention. Asa Packer, the sagacious and energetic pioneer, was pushing with indomitable will those plans which were eventually to result in making the Lehigh Valley famous, and the bold pioneer's name a household word throughout the anthracite coal region. In the fall of 1833 an opportunity was afforded. Charles Ashley was preparing to move to the coal region in search of fortune. The journey was to be made by turnpike. All the household effects were loaded on a wagon, to which three horses were attached. Mr. and Mrs. Ashley took passage on the wagon, and young Blakslee rode the lead-horse. Thus the entire journey to Mauch Chunk was made. Upon arrival he was welcomed in the family of Asa Packer, where he found a home. Their kindness will ever be remembered by him. While in their family Judge Packer sent him to school, under the instructions of that famous teacher, James Nolan, one of the best instructors of that day, to whom Robert H. Sayre and many others of the Lehigh Valley are indebted for that knowledge which prepared them for the work they have performed.
During the boating season, young Blakslee was a towpath boy, driving for different individuals who were boating coal for Packer & Co. He gives a vivid description of the great meteoric shower of Nov. 13, 1833. It occurred about two o'clock in the morning. He was then driving on the towpath, on the return trip. All around was a vast shower, falling as thick as snowflakes and as noiselessly, disappearing immediately upon reaching the ground. It created great consternation among the superstitious, who imagined the world was to be consumed. In 1836, Mr. Blakslee, having by strict attention won the confidence of Mr. Packer, was placed in his store at Rockport, then known as Grog Hollow. In 1839 he was sent to the store at White Haven, and after a short service there he was transferred to the principal store in Mauch Chunk, the famous corner store. After a service of four years, having given evidence of ability, and being entirely trustworthy, he was given charge of the store at Nesquehoning, where he remained about six-teen years. Judge Packer then decided to retire from the mercantile business, and devote his energies to the development of his railroad interests. Mr. Blakslee, in 1857, came to Weatherly, having bought out the mercantile business of R. D. Stiles, who moved to Morrison, Ill. Mr. Blakslee was married to Miss S. Beadle, an English lady. The fruit of their union was nine children, three boys and three girls of whom are living. In politics he is a Democrat. During his twenty-seven years in Weatherly he has prospered. He is a shrewd merchant, possessed of ample competence. His home is pleasant, yet no display. In his union he was blest with one of the best of women. Mrs. Blakslee is of a retiring disposition, yet keenly alive to the wants of the distressed, her many kind and charitable acts having endeared her to many.
The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford
Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884
Transcribed from the original in July, 2002 by
[3X-great-grandson of David Weatherly Sr., namesake of the town of Weatherly]
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